FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC--Tuesday April 12 is Equal Pay Day, a day to mark the slow progress in closing the persistent equal pay gap and the importance of eliminating employment discrimination. The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) released today a new fact sheet on the occupational gender wage gap that shows women have lower median earnings than men in 107 out of 111 occupations, regardless of levels of education. The fact sheet, based on an analysis of median weekly wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is released annually by IWPR to mark Equal Pay Day
According to the fact sheet, in the lowest paid ten occupations close to two-thirds of workers are women, while in the highest paid ten occupations close to two-thirds of workers are men. Women's median earnings are lower than men in the ten most common occupations, in the ten highest paid occupations, and in the ten lowest paid occupations.
Professional financial advisors have the dubious distinction of having the highest gender wage gap for a week of full-time work. In this occupation, the female-to-male earnings ratio is 58.4 percent, equal to a weekly gender wage gap of 41.6 percent (based on median earnings for full-time workers). The national weekly gender earnings gap for full-time work is 18.8 percent.
A new IWPR report, Ending Sex and Race Discrimination in the Workplace: Legal Interventions That Push the Envelope, sheds light on factors contributing to the gender wage gap and steps that employers can take to eliminate unequal pay.
The report is based on the analysis of 502 sex and/or race employment discrimination settlements that became effective between 2000 and 2008 and includes case studies in four industries: uniformed services (including police and fire departments), agribusiness and food processing (including migrant or undocumented workers), aerospace manufacturing, and financial services.
"Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 holds the promise of equality for women and minorities," said Dr. Heidi Hartmann, President of IWPR. "Even though we are still far from equality, Title VII litigation has fueled progress for women in the workplace and class action has been the key to bringing about greater fairness at work, improving workplaces for all workers—not only for those who brought the suit.
The report points to policies and practices employers should adopt to prevent wage discrimination, such as the public posting of job and promotion opportunities; transparency in the criteria for pay and promotion decisions; accountability of supervisors; and, the analysis of pay and promotion decisions to make sure that decisions are not biased.
According to the report, certified class action settlements are more likely to include ways to hold supervisors accountable for preventing discrimination and to introduce quantitative measures to monitor progress in achieving equal opportunity in workplace
"For over 15 years, financial service companies have been sued again and again because of the systematic sex discrimination in pay, allocation of business leads, and promotions," said Dr. Evelyn Murphy, Director of the Wage Project and co-author of report. "Each class action lawsuit provides fresh examples of discriminatory practices and makes a contribution towards tackling them. Class action lawsuits are not a magic wand for eradicating discrimination, but they can help hold companies accountable for illegal practices."
The report describes instances of both subtle and outright discrimination, including: the denial of higher pay to women because they are married, the denial of promotions despite higher qualifications than their male counterparts, and unequal access to overtime and weekend earnings on the assumption that women would not want those opportunities due to family obligations. Most distressingly, some of the cases involved instances of sexual violence, including assault.
"Anyone who ever thought that 'choice' is the primary reason behind the gender wage gap should have a look at these litigation case studies," said Ariane Hegewisch, Study Director at IWPR and lead author of the report. "They show the myriad of factors which contribute to keeping women's earnings lower within jobs, and to keeping them out of the better paid jobs."
The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women's studies and public policy programs at George Washington University.